Notes from the Keeper Shelf: The Queen’s Thief Series

This week, I got my hands on one of my most anticipated reads of the year: Return of the Thief, the sixth and final book in Megan Whalen Turner’s young adult fantasy series The Queen’s Thief. And it was totally wonderful.

But in wanting to write about why I thought it was great, I realized that I wanted to talk about the series more broadly, because it’s not nearly well known enough and specifically might scratch itches for Game of Thrones and romance fans.

This will likely be a bit rambling (I’m under the weather), but here’s why you should give The Queen’s Thief a try. I’ll start with a long non-spoilery pitch, then talk about the titles in a more specific, brief, and spoilery way.

Continue reading “Notes from the Keeper Shelf: The Queen’s Thief Series”

Odds and Ends

  • Our not-quite-romance book club on George Gissing’s The Odd Women (1893) starts on Monday. Here are the details. I’d love to see you there.
  • We’re less than a month away from the release of Earth Bound. It isn’t going to be available on Netgalley, so if you’re a reviewer and you’d like to take a look at it, please email me at author.emma.barry (at) gmail.
  • Star Dust is in a promo celebrating Sassy, Sexy, Smart historical romances. Seriously, these books are so good. (I’m trying to keep all my squee inside about this and it isn’t working.) You can get all eight for FREE here. This deal is only good through April 25 though, so click fast.


  • ETA: and I forgot one! Carina Press is running a 30% sale on all the books at their site, which includes The Easy Part series (my DC-set political romances). The deal is good through April 30; use the code RT3016 when you check out. These books rarely if ever go on sale.

eARCs of Party Lines

Party Lines is now on NetGalley!

I feel somewhat weird posting this because I support the blogger blackout and have concerns about the commercialization of book discussion. But…I wrote the book and I’m proud of it and I want people to read it.

While all of the books in the series are oppositions attract romances, this is an enemies-have-a-steamy-affair book–an affair that threatens their jobs, values, and sense of self. It’s banter-y and fun and heart-wrenching and, yes, they exchange flirty emails wherein they fight about the Bill of Rights. Oh, and there’s a presidential campaign. This is probably the only romance anyone can name that includes parts of stump speeches because I’m really good at knowing what readers want. (Ha!)

If you blog about or review contemporary romance and are interested in featuring or reviewing the book, doing an interview with me, running an excerpt, etc., please send me an email–-author.emma.barry (at)–-and we’ll see if we can work something out. I don’t actually have ARCs yet (hopefully soon!), but if you have a problem with your NetGalley request, or if you don’t use NetGalley, let me know.

For more information about the book, including the opening chapter, look here.

A Completely Biased Recommendation

Two years ago I had finished my drawer novel and Brave in Heart and had started writing Special Interests. I’d been telling stories in my head since forever, but I’d only been writing them down for about a year. But it turned out putting my ideas on paper was both harder and funner than my vague imaginings. And indeed I had realized I wanted to try and publish. So I decided to find a critique partner to help me become better at the writing part.

The process is sort of like online dating. You craft a profile, stress about it, and delete everything you’ve written. Then you rewrite the notice without the puns and close your eyes as you post it on different writer’s message boards and listservs. When you finally hear back from someone and parse her profile, you exchange chapters. You send notes, read the feedback, and ask yourself if you want to spend months reading this person’s work.

During the weeks I searched for a CP, I read a lot of good chapters and met several interesting people. But the only one I made it to the second-date stage with was Genevieve Turner. And her first book came out today.

Summer Chaparral Cover

I can’t be objective about this book; let the record show that I’m admitting that up front. I’ve read it many times and it’s a palimpsest for me. When I read Summer Chaparral, I see the book it was and the book it’s become and I filter it through Gen’s and my now long-standing partnership and friendship.

But let me tell you why I wanted to keep reading it during our “first date” and why I think you should too.

Summer Chaparral is a Romeo and Juliet tale about an American cowboy named Jace–seriously, the name gives me shivers–and Catarina, the eldest daughter of a Californio family. I’m a heroine-centric reader and Catarina was the hook for me. The closest cognate to her is Scarlett O’Hara, but I hesitate to say this because Gone With the Wind makes me stabby (I talked about that novel at some length here). She’s not beautiful and kind and self-effacing and delusional about her charms as some romance heroines are. She’s pretty and she’s knows it–but it hasn’t made her happy at all. She wants things. Little, normal things in her world, a home of her own and a family and a small measure of domestic power, but she hasn’t achieved them.

Jace wants things too. Like Catarina, the things he wants are small: his own ranch, a life that’s measured on his own (vs. his family’s) terms. And this beautiful, intriguing woman can help him get them. It all seems easy enough, but quite unbeknownst to them (except maybe not at all unbeknownst), they’re playing roles in old family and cultural dramas.

It’s a shot-gun marriage story, in which desire isn’t convenient and doesn’t solve the problems. But what happens after the marriage, and how this one couple must solve personal and sociocultural hurts, is what’s really fascinating.

It’s a story that’s deeply inflected by setting. Beyond Catarina, I wanted to keep reading because Gen is a beautiful writer of place. Her descriptions of the town of Cabrillo are breathtakingly specific and lovely. So between the vain but vulnerable heroine and the nature writing, I signed up for more. I’m really glad I did.

Again, this isn’t a review. I cannot fairly or objectively review this book and I want to support the Blogger Blackout. (Look at me, contradicting myself like a boss.) But, all that being said, if you like “unusual” historicals or spicy historical romance or Western romance or just plain old good books, I think you should check it out on Goodreads or Gen’s website or you can buy it Amazon, B&NiBooks, Kobo, and All Romance.

eARCs of Private Politics

Private Politics just appeared on NetGalley!

I’m really proud of this book. It’s an opposites attract romance featuring a beta blogger hero and a socialite heroine who is going through some self reevaluation. He helps her investigate a scandal at her job and hijinks ensue. There’s corruption and money laundering, an epic hug and Mahler, and the (in my opinion) best first kiss I’ve written yet.

If you blog about or review contemporary romance and are interested in featuring or reviewing the book, doing an interview with me, running an excerpt, etc., please send me an email–author.emma.barry (at)–and we’ll see if we can work something out. I’m limited in how many copies I can give out, but if you have a problem with your NetGalley request, or if you don’t use NetGalley, let me know.

For more information about the book, including the opening chapter, look here.

Special Interests Review Tour Giveaway

Thank you to the lovely ladies at Goddess Fish Promotions, Special Interests is going on a review tour. And as part of the tour, I’m giving away a Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice!) plus two digital copy of Special Interests.

Enter early and often!

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Continue reading “Special Interests Review Tour Giveaway”

Reviews and Spotlight Round-Up

Our vision of a writer working alone in a garret, the solitary genius producing art on his own, couldn’t be more wrong. And not just the genius part, at least not where I’m concerned: books simply aren’t produced by one person working alone, not in one in a hundred instances. While I may have drafted on my own, I wouldn’t be able to write and to polish without the support of my critique partner, the lovely Genevieve Turner, the editors at Crimson, and my beta readers (particularly Kimberly Truesdale).

But if writing and revising a book require the efforts of dozens of people, marketing and promoting takes a smallish army. For Brave in Heart’s release week, the book was featured and reviewed all over the place. In case you missed any of these…

Over at the Crimson Editors blog, I blame Ken Burns (the documentary filmmaker) for my career as a romance novelist.

Jamie and Kati at Romancing the Rake spotlighted the book.

Long Ago Love ran an excerpt.

USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog noted Brave in Heart in its round-up of new historical releases.

The book was reviewed at Chick Lit Reviews and NewsBadass RomanceRomantic Historical Lovers, Romance Reviews Today, Reading with Analysis, and The Reading Cafe. While some reviewers have loved Brave in Heart, others were more circumspect — but all have been thoughtful about a book that I know isn’t the typical historical romance fare, from the heavy setting to the non-alpha hero. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who read and supported the book in its first week of release.

Thank you all so much!